Rep. Kasey Carpenter, a Republican Georgia House member from Dalton, has re-introduced legislation that would change the law and allow Georgia resident DACA students the opportunity to attend public Georgia colleges by paying in-state tuition, rather than forcing them, as the law currently requires, to be treated as “non-resident” students at three times the tuition rates of their resident classmates.
Currently, the legislation is co-sponsored by three other Republicans and three Democrats, a refreshing bipartisan effort in these difficult times of political polarization. Currently, as of Jan. 31 (www.legis.ga.gov), none of our Hall County delegation have signed on as co-sponsors, but they should do so.
Hall County is home to scores of immigrant students, some of them DACA students, and our school systems thrive on their participation. We cheer them in PTA programs, school plays, sports teams and congratulate them at graduation. Our teachers encourage them toward being better students and pursuing their dreams so they can continue their education beyond high school and strive toward futures of increased personal, family and community success and opportunities.
After graduation, DACA students face buckets of cold water thrown on those dreams, as they face the financial obstacles that await. According to the UGA Office of Financial Aid, in-state annual tuition at UGA is $9,790. Annual “Non-resident” tuition (that required of DACA students) is $28,830. Tuitions vary by institution, but the discrepancies in tuition remain. This difference in expense kills the dreams of many DACA students, placing a college education beyond those dreams.
Rep. Carpenter says his bill is a workforce development bill. He is exactly right. To deny bright students the opportunity to pursue their dreams is a stain on our community and our state. The time is now for our legislators to join this bipartisan effort.
I urge our delegation to join this movement toward fairness, improving the future of some of our brightest students, and a very real and meaningful workforce development effort. “Is it good for Hall County?” The answer seems evident.
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